UACCB’s 2013 Outstanding Alumna comes from classroom

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published July 25, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2013 at 2:28 p.m.
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At 37, Jalisa Milligan achieved one of her dreams — she earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, but she gives credit to the educational foundation she received at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

“It’s never too late to pursue your dream,” Milligan said.

Milligan was named UACCB’s Outstanding Alumna for 2013. She will represent the college at the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges’ annual conference in October.

“[When I was named Outstanding Alumna], I was very grateful,” Milligan said. “It’s a great honor.”

She made her way to UACCB after she worked at the White Rodgers plant in Batesville for 13 years. The plant was a division of Emerson Climate Technologies.

“I worked for five years out on the assembly line, then eight years in the office,” Milligan said. “[White-Rodgers] was part of the reason I went back to school.”

Milligan said that in 2000, she got word of the company moving overseas, and salaried employees were offered compensation if they wanted to leave the company.

“I saw that as an opportunity to go back to school,” Milligan said. “I had always wanted to be a teacher, and I had started taking a college class here and there, but it wasn’t until later in life that I got the opportunity.”

UACCB, which was close to Milligan’s home, proved to be affordable for the nontraditional student: She was married and had children when she enrolled.

“The teachers and staff were wonderful and very helpful,” Milligan said. “They guided me in what I needed to do. UACCB was my educational foundation.

“I thought it would be difficult as a nontraditional student,” Milligan said. “The teachers and staff made the transition [into school] so easy.”

In 2001, she got her two-year associate degree in accounting from UACCB because she wanted something to fall back on if teaching didn’t work for her, Milligan said.

“I then went on to ASU in Jonesboro,” she said. “I finished my bachelor’s degree in December of 2003.”

She began teaching at Cave City Elementary School in 2004 and still teaches there.

“I decided after a couple of years, I wanted my master’s degree,” Milligan said. “In 2007, I got my master’s degree in elementary education.”

A master’s degree wasn’t where Milligan wanted to stop. She said that in 2008, she wanted to receive National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential in which teachers must analyze their teaching context and students’ needs, according to the National Board website.

“It’s usually a three-year process, and it took me one year,” Milligan said. “I became National Board Certified in 2009.”

Teaching has always been a dream of Milligan’s, and she said she loves working with young children.

“I had lots of teachers [who] really inspired me,” Milligan said. “I’ve always wanted to teach, and inspiring young children is just my desire.”

Milligan, 47, now teaches third grade at Cave City Elementary School and said she enjoys watching her students learn on a daily basis.

“Just seeing them when they actually [understand] a concept — that light bulb just goes off,” Milligan said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing that.”

She said her educational dreams might not be over just yet.

“I haven’t made any plans yet to go further,” Milligan said. “You never stop learning. You continue to learn throughout your journey in life.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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